back to article F-35 targeting system laser will be 'almost impossible' to use in UK

US restrictions on the F-35 fighter jet's targeting system will make it “almost impossible” for training to be carried out in the UK, the Ministry of Defence fears – but its press office insists the constraints are normal. The F-35's electro-optical targeting system (EOTS) includes a target designator laser and a laser …

Joke

Does this mean they have to shout "Behind you!"

and wait for the enemy to look the other way before they can target them?

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Re: Does this mean they have to shout "Behind you!"

What about persons with hearing loss or wearing iPods, plus there is the number of languages that the announcement would need to be made in.

Clearly they will need to issue laser safety glasses to anyone within range, these should be to prescription if required and full training in their use given. Deployment of the aircraft will require a 60 day notice with letters sent to all households as well as adverts on TV and in the press. A team of carers should conduct house to military target calls to ensure everyone has their safety glasses and knows how to deploy them. Special cot or pushchair screens may need to be provided and notices at travel terminals and road connections should be erected for the safety of any visitors to the area.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Does this mean they have to shout "Behind you!"

Clearly they will need to issue laser safety glasses to anyone within range, these should be to prescription if required and full training in their use given.

With lasers, a basic mirror (or mirrored lenses) might be enough. Does that mean the US is now going to add mirrors to the list of stuff that is export restricted?

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Re: Does this mean they have to shout "Behind you!"

It's a Heisensor; it only works if noone is looking.

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Re: Does this mean they have to shout "Behind you!"

Surely a quick shout of "squirrel" would do the job.

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Pint

Wait until you see the next generation fighter...

It will cost $240 Trillion each, and thus there will only be one.

It'll be capable of shooting down up to 255 enemy aircraft at once. Which will lead directly to the following exchange...

"Incoming enemy aircraft! Scramble the F-240T !!!"

"How many enemy aircraft are inbound ?"

"Two Hundred and Fifty... ..Six."

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Mushroom

Re: Wait until you see the next generation fighter...

The next gen fighter jet wont have a meat sack inside, so it will be significantly cheaper, faster, and better.

Until Skynet takes over of course and then we're all screwed but at least we'll have saved some money...

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Re: Wait until you see the next generation fighter...

'The next gen fighter jet wont have a meat sack inside, so it will be significantly cheaper, faster, and better.'

Cheaper? Oh dear, in that case you're not doing it right.

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Re: Wait until you see the next generation fighter...

Yeah, you're never going to get a government contract with that attitude.

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Half the per-unit price

Need to buy four times as many

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Re: Wait until you see the next generation fighter...

You're missing the point. If you make it "cheaper", then you get less money. By definition.

Whose interest is that in? Certainly not yours. Nor yet the armed services procurement people, because their boilerplate funding proposal says "Whatever It Takes" - and the more they spend, the more important they are. Only the poor old taxpayer would gain, and they are so distracted by every other issue you can imagine that the chances of their vote being swayed by this issue are infinitesimal.

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Re: Wait until you see the next generation fighter...

>>"The next gen fighter jet wont have a meat sack inside, so it will be significantly cheaper, faster, and better."

I agree it's now time to replace pilots in military aircraft, but I don't think it will be cheaper. I mean pilots are certainly expensive but as a part of the TCO (R&D, manufacture, maintenance, profit margin), they're a small part. Where automation will make a difference is the willingness of our politicians to engage in war against non-equal parties given the reduced political fallout from lesser risk of bodybags returning home to be photographed by the media. But reduced cost...? Not unless a war with an equivalent power forces the government to lower profits for the manufacturing companies.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wait until you see the next generation fighter...

Where automation will make a difference is the willingness of our politicians to engage in war against non-equal parties given the reduced political fallout from lesser risk of bodybags returning home to be photographed by the media

.. as already demonstrated by the daily US drone sorties. Personally I think countries doing this should at least have the decency to formally bury those they kill, and provide open records on why they thought the target was worth killing, and how much collateral damage there was many innocents were killed in the process (let's avoid political weasel words).

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E 2

Re: Wait until you see the next generation fighter...

A sixteen bit avionics upgrade pack will be available for an additional $240 Trillion.

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JLV
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Re: Wait until you see the next generation fighter...

The Their next gen fighter jet wont have a meat sack inside

Corrected for you.

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Anonymous Coward

thought we've already paid our war debt off...thought we didn't have to buy any more yank shite?

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Anonymous Coward

I think the general('s) plan was that we'd buy yank shite until all alternatives were completely destroyed... and then have no choice but to go on doing the same.

Seems to have all gone to plan.

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Trollface

Of course, the F-35Bs delivered so far have been for the RAF, not the Navy

So are not yet cleared for seaboard operations. And then there's the way the US defines 'seaboard' as within 200 miles of the sea. And then there's the fact that it's impossible to get 200 miles from the sea in the UK. Don't worry, I'm sure someone's planned it all out. The Merlin worked out perfectly, after all...

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You couldn't make it up

There was a really great film made some years ago, with Cary Elwes and Kelsey Grammer. The Pentagon Wars https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDYpRhoZqBY - if you've not seen it, take the time to watch. But get ready for the WTF moments. (The way KG tries to hide how much money they've spent and how long they took, without a single functioning device.)

Based on real events, it shows just how crazy the whole procurement system has become. What's quite sad is that all of the officers involved were promoted, apart from the one who blew the whistle; and he was dismissed the service.

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Re: You couldn't make it up

If you want a crazy procurement system then take a look at Canada. Billions of dollars and a few years in and we have yet to start to cut steel on our new ships. We've badly needed to replace our fighter jets for a long time and we just put our 2nd or 3rd RFP for replacements. Etc, etc, etc.

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WTF?

The world's first IOT aircraft? Predictable results?

Am I the first to notice this debacle of an airplane is an Internet Of (broken) Things device? Think about it... it gets updates from the Mothership, shares all the data it collects with same, automatically orders supplies, has gaping security holes, and doesn't perform its intended functions well. Sounds like classic IOT to me. Therefore, it's behaving exactly as I would expect.

I'll be off now to reminisce about the days when my fair country made amazing and capable warplanes. Guess we had our run...

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Re: The world's first IOT aircraft? Predictable results?

...and controlled by a central, remote, server.

Lives may be at steak if the server goes down

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Childcatcher

Re: The world's first IOT aircraft? Predictable results?

Lives at steak, Rib-eye maybe?

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Re: The world's first IOT aircraft? Predictable results?

Rather suspect it might more like the world's most expensive TITSUP.

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Beat Up

Is El Reg sourcing stories from Sputnik?

MOD fears ??????

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Anonymous Coward

Tornado radar ...

Why have I just remembered being told that the "ground hugging radar" fitted to Tornadoes in the 80s/90s (and one of the reasons the US was so keen to have the UK on board for Gulf War I, as they didn't have that capability) was actually a lump of concrete, and any "gee-whizz" low flying was actually down to the pilot ?

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Re: Tornado radar ...

Because someone was obviously confusing the two different types of Tornado. The air defence variant was initially delivered with concrete ballast rather than radars, the interdiction/strike version had a fully working terrain following radar, it's just the pilots could manually fly lower than the radar. Assuming they could see out the window.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Tornado radar ...

According to Rumour, the USAF Pilots would not fly a zero altitude. The old 'war games' between the US and the UK were canned when the US called foul at the RAF flying so close to the ground in thei Buccaneers that they left a sandstorm behind them which clogged up vital bits of kit on the yank planes. One RN pilot I ran into during Sea Harrier trials said that he'd flown through the top of a wave more than once in a Buccaneer.

That was the whole idea. Fly in low under the Radar, drop your load and hightail it out again.

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Re: Tornado radar ...

The Blue Circle radar was originally developed for the Blackburn Buccaneer and subsequently deployed in development Sea Harriers before being fitted to the development Tornado ADVs.

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Re: Tornado radar ...

The Eurofighter was nearly fitted with a Blue Circle gun.

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MrT
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Red Flag...

... Nellis AFB commander reportedly had a photo of a large curved trench in the desert floor, taken after one of the contests in which the RAF took part. When asked, he said it was left by the wingtip of a Vulcan as it manoeuvred at extreme low level. Another Vulcan landed with cable fouling the tail, snagged as the plane flew under power or telegraph lines - at the time it the snagging, the plane was going up. A further example of the RAF pilots' flying skills was when one Vulcan flew in as a cover for two Buccaneers (Operation Skyshield IIRC, simulated attacks against the US eastern seaboard) - one radar blip became three as the two smaller planes broke cover from under the Vulcan's shadow. The way the RAF flew their 4-engined plane when it first attended the contest was such that one US pilot commented that he liked the new fighter jet, but he thought it a bit big, not realising that it could haul 21,000 lbs of bombs.

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Re: Tornado radar ...

It was known as 'Blue Circle', being a well-known cement manufacturer at the time. The initial batch of Tornado F2 ADV variants had to use a bag of cement in the nosecone because the Foxhunter radar had not been delivered.

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'Finmeccanica (which recently, and completely incomprehensibly, rebranded itself as “Leonardo”'

Clearly a defence contractor who was inspired by an artist famous for getting very large amounts of money and never finishing the job.

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Leonardo - not incomprehensible, but an inspiration

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architonnerre

Hopefully, though, the Italian boffins are thinking up something a bit more 21st century, though still ground-breaking.

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Anonymous Coward

Read between the lines

Basically the Yanks don't want anyone "snooping" the laser targeting system to figure out how it can be defeated. Given the American history of blue on blue accidents there's a good chance that they have figured out how to communicate from the "target" to the aircraft with the new system to stop the flyboys killing our forces in the future.

F35 laser paints the target, target says "Friend" - laser moves on to next target.

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Re: Read between the lines

I was thinking the same thing; rather than safety considerations, the usage restrictions may be due to the lasers using some trick modulation for some of its functionality and the US are trying to maintain some secrecy about it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Read between the lines

there's a good chance that they have figured out how to communicate from the "target" to the aircraft with the new system to stop the flyboys killing our forces in the future.

F35 laser paints the target, target says "Friend" - laser moves on to next target.

That's assuming the system prevents the idiot americans from actually firing anyway.

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Pirate

Re: Read between the lines

"F35 laser paints the target, target says "Friend" - Computer says KILL."

Or in the case of the Internet of Warfare Things - someone else's computer says "KILL"

It's all to do with security see - we can't have the enemy shooting up our /sorry, your /forces.

We MUST shoot first.

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Joke

Re: Read between the lines

Apparently the British variant reports:

"Unexpected ally in the bombing area. Please wait for assistance".

(In further developments, the Chinese have just discovered that it can be defeated by a barcode declaring yourself to be a medium sliced white loaf).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Read between the lines

"Basically the Yanks don't want anyone "snooping" the laser targeting system to figure out how it can be defeated. "

And given how the UK is riddled with foreign agents, you'd want to be doing tests in secure areas. The secure areas will probably still be compromised with foreign agents and monitoring equipment, but it is at little easier for the cops to prove it. They are the same cops that let a Russian asylum seeker get assassinated in 2006, so the US and most of NATO doesn't expect too much from UK security forces. I'm surprised the US even installed EOTS on the UK F35s, as there is no way the UK could protect the technology.

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Re: Read between the lines

"F35 laser paints the target, target says "Friend" - laser moves on to next target."

Yanks have had that technology for over 20 years, though I don't know if it was ever out into use, For obvious reasons I'm not saying how, though I expect the technology has moved on since I was made aware in the 1990's

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Re: Read between the lines

Given that it was designed and manufactured in Edinburgh you have to assume that the UK protected the technology.

Idiot.

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Re: Read between the lines

The laser was designed in the UK, the targetting system is American, and the special material which signals in response to the laser is very much American

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500lb?

A 500lb bomb for a tank? Rather an overkill, surely?

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Re: 500lb?

They're Americans.

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Re: 500lb?

I remember around 17lbs of metal slug was all it took to take out a Tiger tank in WW2.

I wouldn't have thought Chobham armor required quite that, almost exponential, increase.

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Re: 500lb?

There is no overkill, only open fire and reloading

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Holmes

Re: 500lb?

> They're Americans.

Quite.

Presumably about 50lbs of shell and explosive, and 450lbs of $100 banknotes

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Re: 500lb?

Presumably about 50lbs of shell and explosive, and 450lbs of false $100 banknotes

FTFY

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<quote>According to the Defence Ranges Safety Committee, the F-35 has only been cleared to use the designator laser “in the US under very tight controls”.</quote>

Blue Leader: Bogie has flown out of our airspace. Should I pursue?

Base: Uh, negative Blue Leader, you'll have to let him go; you'd get sued for export violations if you cross the border.

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